As reported by TechCrunch, Instagram yesterday announced several changes to its ‘Platform Policy’, the document that developers must agree to abide by if they want to use Instagram’s APIs. The changes will impact a number of developers, but one of the most significant consequences is that third-party apps which would present a user’s Instagram feed will not be permitted under the new rules.
That means the many third-party apps which sprung up to offer the Instagram feed on platforms which Instagram has never supported, whether it be Flow for the iPad, Photoflow for the Mac, or Tangram for the Apple TV, will no longer be permitted.
On its Developer Blog, Instagram notes that the changes are aimed at improving “people’s control over their content and set up a more sustainable environment built around authentic experiences on the platform”. Instagram wants developers using its API to work on apps that do things such as:
Help individuals share their own content with 3rd party apps, such as apps that let you print your photos and import an Instagram photo as a profile picture.
Help brands and advertisers understand and manage their audience, develop their content strategy, and get digital rights to media. Established apps in this space may apply for our newly announced Instagram Partner Program.
Help broadcasters and publishers discover content, get digital rights to media, and share media using web embeds.
Instagram is adopting a phased approach to implementing the new policy - new apps will be reviewed under the new policy, and Instagram will begin granting full API access starting December 3, 2015. Existing apps will need to be re-approved under the new policy, but they will have until June 1, 2016, to do so. Instagram is also introducing a new Sandbox Mode which will give developers access to the Instagram API so that they can privately build and test their apps whilst their app is being reviewed by Instagram.
Instagram has launched Boomerang today, a new app for iOS and Android to create and share animated photos that play forward and backward.
Instagram announced yesterday that they had hit the milestone of 400 million monthly active users:
We are thrilled to announce that the Instagram community has grown to more than 400 million strong. While milestones like this are important, what really excites us is the way that visual communication makes the world feel a little bit smaller to every one of us.
Our community has evolved to be even more global, with more than 75 percent living outside of the US. To all the new Instagrammers: welcome! Among the last 100 million to join, more than half live in Europe and Asia. The countries that added the most Instagrammers include Brazil, Japan and Indonesia.
I can’t believe its been nearly five years since Instagram launched, it really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. But I was really surprised to remember that Facebook acquired Instagram in April 2012, when Instagram had “only” 40 million users. If I recall correctly, a lot of people thought Facebook was crazy to buy Instagram for $1 billion. Well, I think Facebook got the last laugh on that one, and as Forbes points out, Instagram now has more monthly active users than Twitter (316 million).
It’s been a few years since I updated my Instagram growth chart, so here’s an updated version.
I’ve been using Instagram (shameless plug) almost since day one, and although I don’t post to it that frequently, I do look at my feed on a daily basis. For the most part I’ve always used the official Instagram client, except for a brief period when I also used Flow, an iPad Instagram app. Until this week, I’d never tried an Instagram client for the Mac, which is what Photoflow is.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Photoflow includes virtually every single feature that the official Instagram app has. Of course there is one giant exception; you cannot post images to Instagram from Photoflow. But that’s a restriction that Instagram has imposed on all third party apps, it’s not a failure of Photoflow. But almost everything else, whether it be liking images (but not commenting), interactive hashtags, featured images, viewing profiles or searching nearby locations is available in Photoflow. It also supports easy account switching and can send you notifications for new images, comments, likes and followers.
From yesterday (still catching up after a short vacation), Instagram is preparing to roll out higher resolution uploads on mobile devices. Vlad Savov writes at The Verge:
An Instagram spokesperson tells us that the company started “gradually rolling out 1080 across iOS and Android” last week, meaning that most people should already be seeing the higher-resolution images in the mobile app. Alas, Instagram on the desktop remains a second-class citizen, as Instagram says that “right now we are focused on mobile, with no plans to share on web.”
The often-derided (but also iconic) low-res nature of Instagram was instrumental five years ago to make uploads feel fast, but, given the progressive availability of 4G networks these days, the time is right for Instagram to bump up the resolution a little bit.
From the Instagram Engineering blog, a fascinating look at how Instagram used machine learning to understand the meaning, association, and usage of emoji by their users.
Having learned a good representation for emoji, we can begin to ask questions about similarity. Namely, for a given emoji, what English words are semantically similar? For each emoji, we compute the “angle” (equivalently the cosine similarity) between it and other words. Words with a small angle are said to be similar and provide a natural, English-language translation for that emoji.
The post contains examples of what people mean by popular emoji and a semantic map of symbols. Pretty incredible data analysis.
Fascinating read by Jenna Wortham on The Shade Room, an Instagram-first publication:
Angie explained to me that Instagram perfectly suited her vision for The Shade Room: image-centric and interactive. For her purposes, Instagram was the equivalent of WordPress. When she started the feed a year ago, her goal was to accumulate 10,000 followers in the first year. She accomplished that in only two weeks. Angie started by posting about people at the bottom of the celebrity hierarchy (minor reality stars, mostly) and worked her way up to bigger names, building her loyalties slowly. Eventually, readers started sending her tips and videos via Instagram’s direct-messaging feature. Now, The Shade Room has more than half a million followers on Instagram alone.
I wouldn’t recommend Instagram over WordPress to anyone, but it’s interesting to see how a business has been built on top of this.
Fun new app by Instagram, designed to create photo collages. From the company’s blog:
Today we’re announcing Layout from Instagram, a new app that lets you easily combine multiple photos into a single image. It’s fun, it’s simple and it gives you a new way to flex your creativity.
After Hyperlapse, Instagram continues to build dedicated utilities without cluttering the main Instagram experience (which has already gotten more complex over the years). I’d argue that photo collages are more mainstream than slow-motion videos, and Layout seems to lack the impressive technical feats of Hyperlapse. It’s polished, intuitive, and I like how it simplifies controls for resizing and mirroring, but it doesn’t showcase any breakthrough technology. It doesn’t need to, though, considering the popularity of slightly more complicated collage apps such as Diptic.
Nathan Ingraham writes at The Verge:
Layout is a determinedly simple app — choose your pictures, choose your layout, and make a few quick adjustments. That’s all it does, and its designers are happy to admit it. Even as Instagram’s flagship app has gotten more flexible, adding more granular editing tools to the filters it first became known for, the company wants to keep advanced techniques like Hyperlapse and collages in their own apps.
Curious to see if this will take off (my friends will be a fascinating testing ground).
Very early on in the development process of Hyperlapse, we decided that we wanted an interactive slider for selecting the level of time lapse. We wanted to provide instant feedback that encouraged experimentation and felt effortless, even when complex calculations were being performed under the hood.
This is a technical, but highly fascinating look at the technology Instagram used in Hyperlapse. Not as advanced as Microsoft’s research, but impressive for a mobile device.